Updated: Sep 24, 2022
White sand beaches, black sand beaches, basalt columns, gorges, waterfalls, lava fields, craggy mountains, rocky trolls, sea cliffs, sea caves, jagged craters, sleeping volcanoes, ancient glaciers, colorful seaside towns, deserted settlements, lighthouse, steaming pools, fumaroles. The Snaefellsnes peninsula just north of Reykjavik has everything that you'd want to see in all of Iceland, just on a smaller scale.
You would need more than a day to really appreciate this "Iceland in Miniature" but we had already lost half a day of sightseeing due to the thick fog the evening before preventing us from seeing the views of towering mountains and glaciers as we drove in. The fog was still lingering at the tip of the peninsula when we started off in the morning entering the Snaefellsjokul National Park. It burned off by mid-morning but a light marine layer haunted us the rest of the day.
There was nothing open for breakfast in the tiny town of Hellisandur where we were. It feels a little like a non-pretentious fishing town/art colony, with sculptures and murals in between warehouses and homes. So we stopped at a gas station and bought some bread and flavored cheese spreads. There were ham, bacon, and mushroom flavored cheese spreads that I hadn't seen before. (They were delicious and we definitely don't have them in the US so I'm going to have to make my own now)
Previous occupants of the home rental had also left behind a sealed package of pre-cooked lamb shank, canned peas, and packages of instant noodles that I was able to engineer into acceptable breakfast noodle soup for the family. Something about cold foggy seaside weather makes you crave soup, and since we couldn't get the fish stew we were looking for, lamb noodle soup was a good substitute.
We drove into the National Park and headed towards the cape to check out the old fishing station Öndverðarnesviti and the Svörtuloft lighthouse. The road was very rough passing through fields of jagged lava. We stopped at the beautiful Skarðsvík Beach to do some rock climbing before heading back to the main road Utnesvegur. An Icelandic family had pulled their RV onto the side of the road headfirst to take some pictures and had gotten stuck. They were blocking the entrance lane and so there was plenty of people stopping to help out.
Utnesvegur continued onto the rest of the Park and we stopped at the Saxholl Crater to climb to the top for the view of craters dotting the green landscape. We even drove through the stadium-shaped Holahola Crater.
The next stop was Djúpalónssandur beach, a spectacular valley with its own black sand beach. The hike down to the beach was populated with beautiful rock formations.
The beach had a hidden lagoon and was scattered with the rusty remnants of an old crashed iron fishing trawler.
The beach itself was covered in shiny black pebbles with troll-like rock formations gazing out to sea.
We drove to the visitor center to check out the information on the Snaefellsnes peninsula and to use the restroom. There were picnic tables outside the center so we decided to have our lunch of bread and cheese there. Then it was time to head back to Reykjavik to check in to our apartment rental and to search for Eric's puffin dish among the traditional restaurants of that capital city before leaving Iceland the following morning.